Witness

choir-boys-on-the-floor-moses-in-a-basketAre you a believable witness for God?

So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!”  But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.  – NIV Genesis 19:14

Lot had lived so long and so contented among ungodly people that he was no longer a believable witness for God. He had allowed his environment to shape him, rather than he shaping his environment.  Do those who know you see you as a witness for God, or are you just one of the crowd, blending in unnoticed?  Lot had compromised to the point that he was almost useless to God.  When he finally made a stand, nobody listened.  Have you too become useless to God because you are too much like your environment?  To make a difference, you must first decide to be different in your faith and your conduct.

Jacob & Laban used God as their witness:

It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. – NIV Genesis 31:49

To be binding, an agreement had to be witnessed by a third party. In this case, Jacob and Laban used God as their witness that they would keep their word.

About what God says and does:

“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – – appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – – a land flowing with milk and honey.’  – NIV Exodus 3:16-17

God told Moses to tell the people what he saw and heard at the burning bush. Our God is a God who acts and speaks.  One of the most convincing ways to tell others about him is to describe what he has done and how he has spoken to his people.  If you are trying to explain God to others, talk about what he has done for you, for people you know, or for people whose stories are told in the Bible.

Several required for death penalty:

On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no-one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.  You must purge the evil from among you. – NIV Deuteronomy 17:6-7

A person was not put to death on the testimony of only one witness. On the witness of two or three, a person could be condemned and then sentenced to death by stoning.  The condemned person was taken outside the city gates, and the witnesses were the first to throw heavy stones down on him or her.  Bystanders would then pelt the dying person with stones.  This system would “purge the evil” by putting the idolater to death.  At the same time, it protected the rights of the accused person in two ways.  First, by requiring several witnesses, it prevented any angry individual from giving “false testimony”.  Second, by requiring the accusers to throw the first stones, it made them think twice about accusing unjustly.  They were responsible to finish what they had started.

Eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life testify to his true identity:

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! – NIV Luke 24:25

Why did Jesus call these disciples foolish? Even though they well knew the biblical prophecies, they failed to understand that Christ’s suffering was his path to glory.  They could not understand why God did not intervene to save Jesus from the cross.  They were so caught up in the world’s admiration of political power and military might that they were unprepared for the reversal of values in God’s kingdom – that the last will be first, and that life grows out of death.  The world has not changed its values: a suffering servant is no more popular today than 2,000 years ago.  But we not along have the witness of the Old Testament prophets; we also have the witness of the New Testament apostles and the history of the Christian church all pointing to Jesus’ victory over death.  We will step outside the values of our culture and put our faith in Jesus?  Or will we foolishly continue to be baffled by his Good News?

John’s life with Jesus confirms his message:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – – John 1:1

John wrote to believers everywhere, both Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles). As one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, John was an eyewitness, so his story is accurate.  His book is not a biography (like the book of Luke); it is the thematic presentation of Jesus’ life.  Many in John’s original audience had a Greek background.  Greek culture encouraged worship of many mythological gods, whose supernatural characteristics were as important to Greeks as genealogies were to Jews.  John shows that Jesus is not only different from but superior to these gods of mythology.

Christians are witnesses of Christ’s light:

He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. – – John 1:8

We, like John the Baptist, are not the source of God’s light; we merely reflect that light. Jesus Christ is the true Light; he helps us see our way to God and shows us how to walk along that way.  But Christ has chosen to reflect his light through his followers to an unbelieving world, perhaps because unbelievers are not able to bear the full blazing glory of his light first-hand.  The word witness indicates our role as reflectors of Christ’s light.  We are never to present ourselves as the light to others, but are always to point them to Christ, the Light.

False witnesses testify against Jesus:

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. – NIV  John 18:19

During the night, Jesus had a pre-trial hearing before Annas before he was taken to Caiaphas and the entire Sandhedrin (Mark 14:53-65). The religious leaders knew they had no grounds for charging Jesus, so they tried to build evidence against him by using false witnesses (Mark 14:55-59).

Transformed life the best witness:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that did not run or labour for nothing – NIV Philippians 2:14-16

Our lives should be characterised by moral purity, patience, and peacefulness, so that we will “shine like stars” in a dark and depraved world. A transformed life is an effective witness to the power of God’s word.  Are you shining brightly, or are you clouded by complaining and arguing?  Shine out for God.

The two witnesses of Revelation:

The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on earth – NIV  Revelation 11:10

The whole world rejoices at the deaths of these two witnesses who have caused trouble by saying what the people didn’t want to hear – – words about their sin, their need for repentance, and the coming punishment. Sinful people hate those who call attention to their sin and who urge them to repent.  They hated Christ, and they hate his followers (1 John 3:13).  When you obey Christ and take a stand against sin, be prepared to experience the world’s hatred.  But remember that the great reward awaiting you in heave far outweighs any suffering that you face now.

 

©Kingsway “International” Church 1973.

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